In the never-ending quest to pilfer the meaningfulness out of each other’s work, the old Joe Mankiewicz tenet of “Distil! Distil!” has been reduced from fine, clear moonshine into R-Rated, raunchy, racially inclusive pap, vaguely recognizable as being something indeed familiar, yet strongly malodorous in the manner of a urinal in a 200-year-old tavern. For your late-summer amusement, I offer you Let’s Be Cops.
A sure-fire winner in most cases is infantilism. The Farrelly brothers are past masters, but they tend to use stars who are desperate to do something offbeat. The writer-director of this rarely mirthful dud, Luke Greenfield, and his partner Nicholas Thomas may have been led astray by their producers because all the signs of that dreadful disease ‘Filmmaking by Committee’ are here. The clarion call of “Let’s play dress up”, like the two real cops in Superbad or the fake ones in National Security, is tried and true, but they have to be a wire-framed coat-hanger for something resembling character. It’s a woeful stretch for a minimally talented director like Greenfield, whose milieu is pumping out small-scale star vehicles for Rob Schneider, like The Animal (1999); The Girl Next Door (2004) was a dreadful attempt at making the toddler-voiced Canadian blonde Elisha Cuthbert a star by playing a porn star and it tanked royally.
Exiled back to network television, Greenfield rescued his tanking career with an adaptation of that year’s favorite chick lit novel, Something Borrowed (2011). It may have pissed off both yours truly and its author no end, but this crass comedy vehicle, retooled and engineered for Kate Hudson turned into a huge boffo sleeper hit anyway.
We begin with a peek into the lives of two dim-witted handsomes. Ryan, played by Jake Johnson of Fox’s New Girl, is an ex-college football player, cheated of an NFL career by a bowl game injury. Bored at coaching bored neighborhood kids football, he survives off acting in medical commercials. His biggest starring role – Ha! – is in a Disneyesque upbeat herpes medicine commercial.
His roommate and sidekick, Justin (Damon Wayans, Jr.), is desperately burning to show off his video game design dexterities. So to facilitate his little show, Justin somehow obtains a pair of very authentic-looking police uniforms. Unfortunately, his uptight honky co-workers and an embittered, jealous supervisor brutally take their pleasure rejecting his ultra-enthusiastic pitch for a new shooter game featuring L.A. cops.
Later, with both down in the dumps, Ryan gets the brilliant idea of wearing the uniforms to a college reunion, because, he thinks—Ha! Ha! Mistakenly—it’s a costume party. The uniforms, they believe, will be vehicles for encouraging female sexual promiscuity. Yet they have somehow forgotten their 30-year-old-total-loser status still sticks out like a sore thumb among their underwhelmed, more successful former classmates. Oh well! After the party they decide to troll around the City and get some nooky from all the available cop groupies out there.
You’re getting the picture, right? Ryan then ratchets up the ante by purchasing a decommissioned cop car on eBay along with bulletproof vests. Ryan then begins repeatedly putting himself and his buddy in danger, especially in some nasty encounters with a Eurotrash mobster (James D’Arcy) and his scurvy crew of thugs.
Too good-looking for his own good, Johnson happily works diligently at pushing the obnoxious fascist aspects of his character. Is it funny? I’ve personally witnessed too many instances of real police ‘behavior’ to witness these ‘comedy stylings’ comfortably but hey…
On the other hand there’s Wayans, who fares far better with a more natural, physical comedy. The movie’s finest, funniest scene has Justin playing undercover as, having ingested crystal meth to verify his bona fides, he runs his stoned game on the Eurotrash gang while his dreadlocks rattle and his goofy, solid gold grill glimmers.
Let’s Be Cops features a Backstreet-Boys dominated soundtrack, a great cameo performance from Andy García and a few cute little references to other cops-and-thug movies like Reservoir Dogs, True Romance and The Punisher. Pretty weak and watery, but if you like to keep it light, this should be your speed.